How many of you love leg day? (Can you hear the crickets?!)
Having been a fitness and nutrition coach for almost 2 decades, I can tell you I have heard my fair share of whining when it comes to leg day!
And with the whining, comes some type of negotiations as to what can be done rather than a leg day. Often times, women tend to like leg day more than most men!
For all of you that don’t like leg day, there are even more reasons to do it any way! New research shows that neurological health depends as much on signals sent by the body’s large, leg muscles to the brain as it does on directives from the brain to the muscles. These studies fundamentally alter brain and nervous system medicine — giving doctors new clues as to why patients with motor neuron disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy and other neurological diseases often rapidly decline when their movement becomes limited.
What does this research mean for those of you who fortunately are not impacted by any of the above neurological health concerns?
This information reinforces not only that one should exercise, as exercise in of itself helps the brain to muscle connection, but more importantly exercise the large muscles (your legs being the largest muscles in the body) to recruit even more neurons from the brain. Having your nervous system firing properly will help you with all cognitive functions (decision making, stress management and a decrease chance of dementia).
Other studies looking at physical activity with dementia patients support these conclusions. Researchers found that participants who engaged in physical activity at least twice a week had a lower risk of dementia than those who were less active. The research also showed that it’s never too late to start. Becoming more physically active after midlife was shown to lower dementia risk.
Whether you skip leg day or don’t, as you can see from the research you must not skip exercise. I suggest you find a balance of strength, cardio and flexibility training. Strength training (resistance training) should be done at least 2-3 times a week. Cardio (aerobic) exercise should be done daily. If you’re doing intense cardio (heart rate above 75%) you will need a rest day, but if you’re just walking and being active this should be done 30 minutes a day for an adult. Flexibility training (stretching) should be done daily as well.
At the end of the day, just make sure you are moving and you’ll not only burn some calories and help shed some unwanted and unneeded body fat and weight, you’ll be protecting your mind for life!
About the Author
Scott Keppel is the owner of Scott’s Training Systems, a world-class coaching facility in Chandler, Arizona. He is a nationally certified trainer through NASM and ISSA. His mission is to empower women of all ages and fitness levels.